MA (Economics) , 2001
Niels Veldhuis is working to build a better, stronger Canada — one data point at a time.
Veldhuis graduated with a Master’s Degree in Economics from SFU in 2001 and is currently President of The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based research and education organization rated in the top 20 think tanks worldwide. He was named one of Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 in 2010 by Business in Vancouver.
“Our goal at the Fraser Institute is to help people in Canada understand how we can all have a better quality of life — not based on beliefs but on data,” says Veldhuis.
In 2009, Veldhuis was the lead on one of the first studies to quantify the economic impact of government stimulus packages. Did Government Stimulus Increase Economic Growth in Canada? generated an unprecedented amount of interest and discussion within the business and economic community.
“Over 1000 news stories were written discussing this study and I had three or four days of media interviews. Almost everybody at the time, regardless of political affiliation was in favor of stimulus packages — our study helped people understand that it was not the stimulus package that brought Canada out of a recession,” says Veldhuis.
Veldhuis explains that the overarching belief informing his organization and his own personal practice is a belief in the power of economics and measurement. “There’s a sign in our board room that reads ‘if it matters, measure it’”, says Veldhuis.
Veldhuis wasn’t always an Adam Smith and “Invisible hand” follower. He had originally intended to pursue studies in business. “I did one course in economics and fell in love. It opened up my eyes to a new way of looking at the world. My graduate degree and the guidance the faculty provided helped me fully develop that intellectual framework,” he says.
That guidance didn’t end after his graduation. Veldhuis initially applied to an opportunity as the Fraser Institute at the recommendation of his former graduate supervisor, Dr. Steve Easton, and is happy he did. “I feel very privileged to work in this field, and at the Fraser Institute. I get to work with an amazing team and with experts in many different fields. It is incredibly fascinating and stimulating. The first thing I learned on day one at the Fraser Institute was how little I actually knew!” says Veldhuis.
- Written by Jackie Amsden and the Office of Graduate Studies & Postdoctoral Fellows.
Published in 2015